Worst Films of the Year 2011

It’s also been a bad year, with the lack of certain directors contributions making it all the more painful. Aside from more bland remakes and unimaginative sequels we’ve also had lots of good ideas poorly executed and terrible ideas executed at all. Although we have continued the trend of simply avoiding bad looking movies such as Alvin and the fucking chipmunks 3 we have tried to check out the more infamous titles this year and will hopefully be able to provide a more complete list…in the same way a used toilet is complete, not to get scatty too soon. We’ll save that for number one!
 

10. Sucker Punch

st A lesson: if you put chicks in charge of a battle robot they will paint a pink bunny on it.

Zack Snyder is a controversial little figure. Having a unique directorial style can have that effect on the audience. Starting a career off with a remake of one of the most popular horror films of all time can also have that effect. Here Snyder reaffirms that he is a very talented visual director…but a writer he ain’t! And here we are treated to Zack Snyder’s writing. Perhaps what this is trying to be is a high concept action thriller, but the concept isn’t necessarily sophisticated as much as it is needlessly convoluted. We have a heroine who escapes from her shit life by imagining another equally shit life in which she imagines garish action scenes which provide no tension as we know they’re entirely in the main characters head! There’s no emotional investment here. It becomes hard to know what actually happened in the narrative as we are forced to interpret the exaggerated levels. It’s like a liars Inception. If we are told she killed a guy, then on the next level up perhaps she just punched him which means on the surface level she may have just gave him a look or something. It’s confusing and doesn’t actually add anything to the film. The acting isn’t great. Hiring people from High School Musical can do that. It’s also difficult to claim this is a feminist film when the actresses wear incredibly short skirts…in their own imaginations. Empowering hotness perhaps. The film seems to just want to provide a plethora of action clichés. Anime swordfight, WW1 with zombies, Lord of the Rings, the great train robbery, the action may look pretty but it doesn’t excite as much as it would if we cared about what was happening. Style over substance but the style isn’t enough to win it.

9. Hobo with a Shotgun

Bluray helps you see the misery!

Here’s how not to do nostalgia. Imagine super 8 with capital punishment for pedos. The grindhouse beast created by Rodriguez and Tarantino has hardly inspired modern masterpieces. In fact Planet Terror is the only good thing to come out of those two hours of infamy. Directors seem to think that something which was funny as a two minute trailer would work just as well as a two hour movie. I loved the machete trailer, that doesn’t mean I would actually like to sit through the damn thing! The story concerns a hobo who arrives in a ridiculously OTT town in which no one has subtle emotions and violence runs wild on the streets. Not the realistic muggings, rape, general delinquency kind of violence. No, it’s more the kind of violence that would happen if you took all the guys on Xbox Live and put them in a town together. The hobo then decides to strike back with his own brand of Vigilante justice…and a shotgun. Everyone is killed indiscriminately. Whether they be a murderer, paedophile, exploitative film maker, all are equally deserving of violent death. The big bad in town then hunts down the hobo with many zanily unpleasant antics along the way. The film has major problems with tone. We see a silly wacky performance followed by a bus full of school kids getting torched with flame throwers. The visuals are really nasty to look at. Everything is a shade of green or yellow, in some subliminal attempt to get us to throw up. This is an ugly film, in every sense.

8. Priest

"Have you drawn on my face again?"

This film kicks off with a pretty kick ass animation. An animation which provided such a strong example of “diamond in the rough” that it was almost sufficient to keep this off the list. Just like the final fight did for the Immortals. But you can see the animation on Youtube and the rest of this is bullshit, so here it is at number 8. The film is an adaptation of a quirky Japanese anime, and just like all western adaptations of things that are Japanese and or quirky, it entirely misses the point and instead decides to remake the searchers with CG vampires. Some promise does make it through. The walled cities are somewhat like the Mega cities in Judge Dredd but without Rob Scnieder (which immediately improves any dystopian future). The slightly retro eighties feel to the future and especially the confession booth scene is quite pleasing. The problems really start once they leave the city and arrive in an undeveloped steam punk wild west. The characters are just bland if not annoying in some instances, most of the action occurs in identical caves relying on tedious jump scares or terrible looking CGI for impact and the overall plot doesn’t make too much sense. It establishes a terrible dystopian society established to protect people from the terrible vampire beast. It’s hard to root people mindlessly killing for for religious reasons, even when the enemy is literally demonised. We do have a good villain in the form of Karl Urban who tends to be pretty good in anything he’s in (perhaps not the Doom movie) and who plays the role quite maniacally and is definitely channelling older villains like Gary Oldman’s intense performance in Leon. Our hero, however, who is trying to get across grizzled and world weary, but just seems…tired. This director seriously needs to stop trying to make Bettany an action star. He’s not suited for it! The film was also edited down from an R-rating to a PG-13 rating, which meant reducing the blood and re-editing the sound effects to be less graphic. This is extremely obvious as cuts end quickly and actions seem to have no sound effects to accompany them. This severely dampens the effect the film was trying to go for with its dark and gritty style. Seeing an arm break with only a dull thud sound or a man being drained of his blood with no sound at all is incredibly jarring. Ultimately this is a film with a lot wasted potential. The design is good, the idea is good, the dichotomy at the centre is interesting, but the direction, acting, and composition of the action leaves it hollow. Like a corpse soundlessly drained of discoloured blood.

So that’s priest. It’s lame (in a very accurate sense of the word). But do check out the animation on Youtube. It’s better than the rest of the entire movie.  

7. Stakeland

"Is this right?"

Show don’t tell is the old adage. This film is a fantastic example of how not to write a script. The exposition in the narration offered by our hero explains all the things they couldn’t be bothered to write. “Over time we became close” is not something you can have a character actually say in a film. We must see the closeness developing. The hero and love interest actually say very little to each other in the film and aside from the student-mentor relationship, no characters are developed! We will see a character die and then the group pick up someone who fulfils the exact same purpose. Not that we see much of this group dynamic as there are very few scenes of our group travelling and talking and bonding. It’s like zombieland with none of the funny endearing dialogue. In fact it’s essentially like zombieland told from the perspective of the zombies. They just arrive at a place, bad stuff happens, they move on. An old point must be picked up here, at what point did we lose track of vampires? We’ll get to this in another item on this list, but it seems like we’ve forgotten about what the blood sucking freaks are meant to be all about. Here they are portrayed as mindless zombies who run at their victims and immediately bite them to death with little to no reasoning ability. Personally I blame 30 days of night. We also have a plot about some kind of religious cult who are claiming this world after the vampire apocalypse. Religious cults in post-apocalyptic worlds are a fairly tired concept at this point and a unique spin is really required to make it interesting. Here it seems to just serve to give our heroes some more human villains to fight. It’s just thoroughly bland and pointless…ironically.

6. Battle: Los Angeles

The CGI machine exploded!

Speaking of bland. Have you ever watched a friend play Resistance? You realise just how dull the visuals are and unexciting the action scenes are when you’re not actually required to orchestrate them. Well this is like that, if you were also jumping up and down on a trampoline. There is no plot. None, it’s soldiers fighting robots that might contain Aliens or water melons, whatever. They run around the streets occasionally shooting their guns but with few squibs placed on the enemy, making it hard to tell if they’re hitting anything. Shaky cam is used very poorly here. Remember in Saving Private Ryan when it was really effective at bringing a sense of chaos to proceedings? Well now it just makes everything blurry and confusing and slightly nauseating it has to be said. Characterisation is performed only in the first ten minutes, after that you might be able to spot Aaron Eckert’s chin, the only chick in there and the main black guy who has a problem with Eckert, but that’s pretty much it. The problem with this film is that it’s one very VERY long action scene, but the action isn’t very good! It’s blurry and confusing. The really aggravating point of this movie is that the trailer was good. It seemed to suggest this would be a serious approach to Alien invasion. Unfortunately it just didn’t make any kind of emotional connection, not even on an adrenaline fuelled basis. The closest you can get to watching paint dry on film…grey paint…brown wall. It’s modern FPS games: the movie!

5. Conan the Barbarian

Just kill the guy with the laptop.

The original isn’t really a classic piece of cinema. It’s fun. A good excuse to see Arnie punch a camel (as if an excuse were needed). It also has an amazing soundtrack by Basil Pouledrois, some good practical effects and James Earl Jones is always a great villain. The remake has none of these things. The villain is bland and his goal isn’t all that clear other than a good old fashioned “hunt the macguffin”. The soundtrack is extremely unimpressive; the visual effects mostly a dull CG affair, though a certain amount of imagination has been put towards some of the gore. Our hero isn’t that bad. Jason Mamoa may be familiar to fans of Game of Thrones and Baywatch and he doesn’t do a terrible job here. He’s certainly muscly enough and brings a certain charm to his misogyny. The script is just poor. It makes very little use of Howard’s world, perhaps more use than the original film, but still doesn’t use any of the interesting plots he came up with. At some point someone will read The People of the Black Circle and perhaps a good film will get made. Until then we get Conan chasing an old man around some matte paintings (models would have been better? At least it’s something real), trying to defeat CG tentacles and guys made of sand. This is not going to energise a franchise and really it has considerably less going for it than Conan the Destroyer, the film that killed off the franchise last time. It’s really not a hard formula to perfect. Have some kind of plot, some affable characters, and a lot of battles between Conan and real opponents with some decent physical effects and gore. All we really want from this is a more mature Lord of the Rings. It’s tough to get studios to agree to mature fantasy which excludes the family market, we can’t afford to waste these opportunities! At least we have HBO and they’re Game of Thrones series. God bless HBO!

4. Twilight

"Just pretend it's Jacob! Just pretend it's Jacob!" I'll leave it up to you who's thinking that.

Twilight, in my opinion, represents everything that is wrong with today’s youth. By some horrible twist of fate I have managed to see all the Twilight movies and the latest has to be the most ridiculous so far. Be warned that I’m about to ruin the incredibly involved and controversial plot for BreDawg as I’m calling it. Bella (K-Stew) and Edward (R-Pats) get married (in the sunshine, because in SPARKLY SHINEY TWILIGHT WORLD vamps don’t burn; never mind about Vampire folklore Meyer, just make it up as you go along, yeah?). Then they shag, and of course she gets preggo- because Stephanie Meyer is a Mormon and therefore fully accepts that sex immediately leads to pregnancy (not mention extreme pain). So Bella and Edward’s baby is a demon (of course) and is trying to kill Bella from the inside, just like all sinful relations should! Now in the book this problem is solved by Edward throwing the whole ‘I’ll never turn you into a vampire’ thing out the window and saves her by Siring her (because in SPARKLY SHINEY TWILIGHT WORLD Bella can’t just die.) However, the first film ends before it gets there. Robbing us of the only payoff the film could possibly have. This really did not need to be two movies! A forty minute wedding? Fuck that! This is just a cynical attempt to sell two tickets to one movie.

This seems as good a place as any to really get into what’s wrong with vampires these days. The old classic monsters were all moral fables. Frankenstein was about not using that dreadful science thing (luckily it worked and the practice pretty much died out), The Mummy was about not digging around in the past (luckily Cameron is furthering the cause of no one being able to study history), The Wolfman was about being careful about the wild side of one’s psyche, Jekyll and Hyde same deal and Dracula about beware eroticism! A fancy man from the east comes over, steals all the chicks, and then gets killed by the Victorian gentlemen “protecting” the ladies. Depicting the vampires as the good guys who are unreasonably killed due to old fashioned values about women and their place is certainly an interesting perspective…not one a Mormon is too likely to get right. The vampires don’t represent lust here, no….they sparkle! And the main vampire only gets laid once. The moral of the story seems to be that men are entirely unable to control themselves in bed, so if you agree to have sex with one, tear your shit up and potentially kill you and probably get you pregnant too. BEWARE THE PENIS! LOOK OUT! THERE’S ONE BEHIND YOU! The main vampire family are so utterly neutered that they are fucking vegetarians! Perhaps now that Edward actually has a taste for blood, he might just loose his nut and eat Bella…then the kid.  

Oh and there’s some Wolfey shit too, but no one really cares about that, they only put Jacob in for some alternative man-candy for those who aren’t into the pale look. Tragic, really. Let’s not talk down to tweenage girls, shall we?

3. Green Lantern

The mask disguises everything except all his features.

There is a problem with all the DC superheroes that aren’t Batman, and ironically enough it is the very opposite of this problem that makes Batman one of the best superheroes ever. Quite simply they are all way too overpowered! Once you have established that your hero can spin around the earth backwards to reverse time and can survive being shot in the eye, then really there is no threat that can’t be overpowered. The Green Lantern shares this problem with Superman, and is therefore not a superhero that we’ve given any attention to in his book form.

Having said all that, this movie is a terrible waste of any superhero. The powers Hal Jordon are given are essentially the ability to become a cartoon character. He is able to summon anything he can imagine which includes big comical fists, fake harrier jets, and in one particularly amusing scene a race car built around the frame of a falling helicopter. The powers are not used imaginatively here; more often than not it’s just incredibly silly. Which would be fine, we’ve all enjoyed silly superhero movies in the past, but the tone is not silly! It’s quite serious, with foreboding music, serious performances from the antagonists, and some fairly dark death scenes.

The main problem with this film is visceral. The effects are terrible. Ryan Reynolds clearly got into shape for the role and looks great in the few scenes we actually see his real body but almost immediately he is put into a CG costume. I’ve complained about terrible CGI a lot, but god damn does this film find new levels. They put Ryan Reynolds face onto a CG body with a CG mask across his face. They couldn’t even find a length of fabric to put across his face! It’s all fake and the juxtaposition of real flesh and fake suit highlights how terrible it looks. The aliens look cartoonish and pose little threat, the alien world looks silly and fails to impress as the flight sequence was clearly meant to do and overall the film just didn’t have any presence or impact. Ryan Renolds is good. He’s very charming and looks the part of an unlikely hero. Shame he wasn’t in this more often because the cartoon of him they use isn’t as good.

2. Scre4m

Eventually they found the body.

So rarely do I leave a cinema these days, or indeed any days, and someone asks me what I think and I have to reply “It’s just so fucking postmodern!” The film has become so very self-referential in such an overly familiar way. The gag of starting the movie and it turns out to be a movie within a movie is done three or four times, which is utterly exhausting. It feels like a comedy sketch rather than an actual film. The whole film seemed to have more in common with Scary Movie than Scream. However all Scream movies are guilty of being examples of the thing they are supposedly exposing. They will highlight flaws in the genre and then fully indulge in them. This includes one instance of completely hitting the nail on the head in terms of criticism.

In one of the four fake openings a character observes that in the Saw movies it’s entertaining to see all the different ways a character might die. This actually extends to the Friday the 13th movies and the sleepaway camp series, both of which would put effort into making the deaths quite inventive to help keep the interest. The fact that every character in the Scream movies is just stabbed to death (and not graphically enough to earn an eighteen rating in this instance and often in quite a jokey way to remove all impact) makes them incredibly dull. The other character in the scene counters that you don’t care about those characters and therefore the imaginative deaths have no impact. This is supremely fucking arrogant as the film is insisting that we will care about these characters and that this care will make us upset that the deaths are happening. Firstly, these deaths are played for laughs, we haven’t had a tragic death scene in these movies since Scream 2 and Dewey’s supposed killing. Secondly, the scream series may well be single handedly responsible for making the protagonists of horror movies unlikeable. Scream seems to be the first movie to replace the sweet, good natured kids of the eighties slasher flicks with obnoxious high school stereotypes who we are supposed to be happy to see die. Thirdly the scream movies have been repeating these characters since the first film, and it is easy to point out the “randy” or the “Billy” or the “Tatum” in the new characters.

The film is entirely unimaginative, with nothing new to say on a very tired point. The movie makes some attempt to address the matter of remakes, but fails to actually make any judgement of them. The referencing serves as a gimmick, and detracts from any sense of tension as we see people about to be stabbed to death and pleading “I can’t die! I’m the comic relief!” in a way that no real person ever would. The film isn’t paying homage to horror movies anymore, it’s observing their flaws whilst flaunting them. No subtlety, no ingenuity, and really the film is quite typical of writer Ehren Kruger, who also gave us…

1. Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon

Hopefully a metaphor for the beef''s career

T3 is a truly numbing experience. As an exercise in mindless tedium, unashamed repetitiveness and unimaginative cynicism it is truly without equal and fully deserving of the bottom spot on this list. On every level we find something to annoy. The premise of the moon landings being a cover-up for an investigation of alien activity is fairly interesting but dropped quickly in favour of an absurd plot to move the Transformer home world next to earth, an act that would doubtless fuck up local gravity, tides, and god knows what else, rendering the planet worthless to the villains. The writing is atrocious with McGuffins and old clichés passing for storyline. The acting varies between the aggravating annoyances of Shia LaBitch’s incessant whining and screaming to the utter blandness of Not-Megan Fox’s plastic love interest. Supporting performances from Coen Brothers regulars John Tutturo, Frances McDormand and John Malkovich are supremely hurtful, as is Leonard Nimoy’s lifeless portrayal as the villain of the piece, in which he evens perverts his old catchphrase as a mantra for evil as opposed to good (“The needs of the many, outweighs the needs of the few” now apparently evokes communism and other such evils, rather than the merit of selflessness). This is fractionally less offensive than having the real Buzz Aldrin salute the massive pile of CGI and announce that it is an “honour” to be green screened near him. All get to spout the inane surfer dialogue whilst “acting” out “comedy” sections including a secret agent named “Deep Wang”. Despite these zany comedy antics the film is determined to be more serious this time. In the same film we have innocent civilians vaporised to death and an effeminate martial arts butler.

Deep Wang: He’s not funny…but in 3D!

Moving into the second half of the needlessly long ordeal we find incomprehensible action scenes featuring most of the action occurring just above, below or to the side of the frame. They also completely lack in drama as all the characters that count have already been established in the last film to be immortal (not to mention that the scene used in every one of the trailers doesn’t appear until the last fifteen minutes of the film), killing any tension that a movie featuring massive poorly animated CG robots could have had. It’s also completely impossible to tell which robots are on which side. If they’re painted a bright colour then they are probably on the “good” side, though they throw in a massive red evil robot and a good silver robot just to mix things up a little. I enjoyed two scenes in this movie. In one a group of soldiers pointlessly skydive into an area most have just driven into without problem. The scenes of them soaring through the skyline didn’t look as fake as the rest of the movie and were fairly well directed (no frustrating camera actions, and for the most part the action centred on screen). The second came when a building collapsed and the heroes were forced to try and escape. This involved real actors moving around real sets and therefore had a feeling of tension to them. Soon enough though Bay’s giant mechanical shaft attacks and we’re back to not caring.

Promotional art? Toy? Still from the film? Who’s to tell.

The music underscoring these scenes is also completely unimpressive, opting for either trite patriotic horns performing exasperated sighs to generic drums or impressively bland American soft rock which tends to accompany the scenes of our heroes at rest. What happened to the sexy bombastic electronica from the trailer? Speaking of the heroes whilst not being whipped around by robots, every scene at the start of the film is garishly lit in the typical Michael Bay style making it look like all the action is taking place on the surface of the sun. The film also makes use of national pride or tragedy to cynically invoke response from the audience. You can imagine idiots booing as the villain destroys the Lincoln memorial just so he has somewhere to sit or the autobot’s ship being destroyed in a scene creepily reminiscent of the challenger explosion. Less said about huge falling towers the better.

The film represents the nadir of action cinema. Other efforts this year have reminded us of how much fun the genre can be when you maintain some elements of reality, such as actual people performing daring stunts or a fight involving two real people demonstrating careful choreography. This utterly worthless piece of trash is the highest grossing movie of the year and has already started talks of a sequel, possibly without Bay or LaBitch (so already it’s more promising than the last three). If they are looking for someone to replace Shia, may I suggest the action legends Paul Dano or David Schwimmer both of whom would look just as comfortable in the role as LaBitch did. Bay will go on now and maybe without having to use giant robots all the time he will be able to make something else using lame jokes, bad pacing and terrible action. So with the Transformers trilogy finally behind us, what did it all mean? What was the point he was trying to make with these movies? Each one ends with a judgemental monologue from Optimus. Is there any political agenda or social commentary going on here? Unfortunately we’ll never know. Because the only people who care about this movie would never think to look. 

P for Phuck it and K for Krap!

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About Nerds Get Bored
We're Nerds, and man, do we get bored. Our Twitter: @nerdsgetbored

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